Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (established December 14, 1950) protects and supports refugees at the request of a government or the United Nations and assists in their return or resettlement. UNHCR was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.
As of 2004, the agency has helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives according to their website. A staff of around 5,000 people in more than 120 countries continues to help some 20 million persons.
UNHCR operates in Poland on the basis of three documents: statute of the organisation, specifying the organisation's detailed responsibilities, Geneva Convention (to monitor the compliance with which it was established) and the contract with the Polish Government.
UNHCR keeps providing information and knowledge to the authorities in charge of the procedure of granting the refugee status in particularly complex cases: information about the refugee's country of origin as well as studies, comments and research concerning the situation of various refugee groups or legislative procedures.
However, UNHCR keeps telling about the refugees' issues all around the year - the organisation regularly participates in conferences, training programs and seminars concerning refugees, and raises refugees' problems on meetings where the issues of immigration, tolerance or human rights are discussed.
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